Britain not only lead the industrial revolution by transforming the transport system, creating steam to power machinery and invented Portland cement. It also meant the second biggest food revolution since the Neolithic. Survival farming became forever associated with underdevelopment and large scale food production remained as the “best” and most progressive way to ensure food supply to the ever growing urban developments. This of course meant deep changes in the traditional uses of farm land and agriculture, crop rotation and sustainable animal farming became crucial to achieve a steady and sustainable food production, this was particularly important due to Britain’s limited and most valued resource: land. Advertisements
The Great Courses: Food: A Cultural Culinary History Professor Ken Albala (@kenalbala) University of the Pacific 2013
Not everything that happens at the table has to do with eating, the act of sitting together to share meals is indeed a social event and it provides the perfect opportunity to share, relax, talk and bond.
By Susanne Groom Merrell, Historic Royal Palaces (2013) This book is a feast! It is a golden ticket to a gastronomic time travel. It literally takes the reader to visit royal meals from the 14th century all the way to Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The relationship between monarchs and food is not the same as everyone else’s, food has for millennia being used as a symbol of status, power, politics and soft power. That seems to be the premise of this book.
Every food has a special meaning for every cuisine. But there are certain staple foods that are revered by those cultures whose survival has depended on them. Such is the case of potatoes, rice, rye, wheat, millet, chickpeas and maize (corn). The region comprising Mexico and Central America known as Mesoamerica was one of the big agricultural regions of the Neolithic.
By Robin Fox I have to say that technically this is not a book, it is an article/working paper published by the Social Issues Research Centre a British independent, non-profit organisation, founded to conduct research on social and lifestyle issues, providing new insights on human behaviour and social relations. You can access the PDF file here. Unfortunately in academia many research works don’t necessarily have the most catchy titles and I have to say this is one of those cases. I personally find the document deeply interesting and witty, so I’ll try to illustrate why I liked it, hoping you feel drawn to read it for yourselves.
By Sidney Mintz Beacon Press (1996) This -and all of Mintz’s books- are an essential reference to anyone who wishes to explore the social, economical, political and cultural aspects of food. As an anthropologist, Sidney Mintz explains the intricate relationships between power, tradition and cultural meanings of food. This book has an emphasis on sugar, tea and honey. The author explores the impact of the expansion of western empires and the consequences derived from the introduction of plantations such as sugarcane in the Americas. It is fascinating to see how sugar pretty much became the most desired and expensive ingredient in Europe; and as its production increased it became accessible to all classes. Craved, feared or hated, sugar still seems to make the world go round. Mintz doesn’t only talk about food as a cultural product but also as the result of political and economical interests with a high human cost, i.e. the case of slavery. When freedom is taken from someone, the tiniest form of expression such as food preparation becomes all the way more …